Thunder stars Westbrook, George recruited Noel to sign with OKC

Nerlens Noel says Thunder stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George called and encouraged him to sign with OKC.

When it came to NBA free agency, Nerlens Noel was a wanted man for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

So much so, in fact, the big man received calls from Thunder stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George, who encouraged him to join them in Oklahoma City.

“They called the night of free agency when I was meeting with coach Billy [Donovan],” Noel told Nick Gallo of the team’s website. “They told me, let’s get it done and that we want to do special things this year. I definitely felt where they were coming from. I gave it a little thought and with as much love as they showed, it became an easy decision.”

Noel signed a two-year deal with a player option to join Oklahoma City on July 2.

The 6-foot-11, 228-pound Noel played in only 30 games last season with the Dallas Mavericks, starting six.

In 15.7 minutes, he averaged 4.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals.

Noel turned down a four-year, $70-million contract offer last season from the Mavericks.

Noel missed three months of the season because of a thumb injury and was then suspended for the final five games of the season for violating terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

Noel, a four-year veteran, carries career averages of 9.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocked shots per game.

He is a career 51.2-percent shooter.